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Why Does My Dog Want to Go Outside at Night – What To Know

Most dog owners have been awoken in the middle of the night by their dog asking to be let outside. This disruption to your sleep can be frustrating, especially when it’s difficult to pinpoint why your dog needs to go outside, and this behavior repeatedly happens. So have you asked yourself, why does my dog want to go outside at night?

Most dogs want to outside at night to use the bathroom. Other reasons include them feeling ill, fear, a change in their daily routine, poor training, or natural patroling instincts.  

While your dog wanting to go outside at night can be inconvenient, it’s really important that you understand why. It could be an underlying condition and require further attention. In this article, we’ll dig into all of the facts to help you determine why your dog is behaving this way.

Why Does My Dog Want To Go Out In The Middle Of The Night

Your dog may be asking to go outside in the middle of the night because they need to go to the bathroom. Younger puppies require frequent bathroom trips. The general rule is that they can hold their bladder for an hour for every month of age.

As your dog gets older, they should be able to hold their bladder through the night, which is excellent news for your sleep schedule!

If your dog is not a puppy and is waking you up to go to the bathroom, that may suggest they need an additional bathroom break before bed. Develop a nighttime routine around your dog’s last bathroom break of the night, so they learn that is their opportunity to go before bed.

Take them outside at the same time every night, and develop a command phrase that will help your dog understand that this is their nighttime bathroom break and not outdoor playtime.

Some ideas for phrases include: do your business, time for nighttime potty, or go pee. Repeat the phrase until they are finished going to the bathroom, and then make sure to give your pup lots of praise afterward!

If you implement this routine and find that your dog still has trouble holding their bladder through the night, evaluate when you are feeding them dinner.

Consider moving their dinner feeding up a few hours if it is too close to bedtime. If they are eating right before bed, it is more likely your dog will need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Do Dogs Need To Be Let Out At Night

Dogs do not need to be let out at night after they have had their final bathroom break. If you find your dog is begging to be let outside at all hours of the night, pay attention to what they are doing once they are outside.

If you are letting your dog outside at night and notice that they spend that time running around or playing, they are likely sleeping too much during the day. Under-stimulated dogs have too much energy at night and will quickly get up to no good!

The solution for this behavior is to make sure your dog is getting proper exercise and attention throughout the day. Take your dog for a longer than usual walk, and make sure to spend time petting and playing with your pup throughout the day.

Why Does My Dog Want To Go Outside All The Time

Dogs want to go outside all the time because of all the exciting scents, animals, and activities going on out there! Your dog is a smart animal and quickly will learn that their backyard or outdoor space is full of fun activities: digging, sniffing, and potentially playing with our dogs. Often when dogs are always begging to go outside, they are bored inside the home.

If your outdoor space permits, try to allow your dog to spend as much time outside as possible during the day. In particular, larger dog breeds require a lot of stimulation daily and will thrive if they can spend up to an hour a day walking.  

If you live in a place where you cannot let your dog off the leash outside, consider looking for a dog park in your neighborhood. Most breeds are very social and will enjoy playing with other dogs. This should help significantly with their boredom. 

How Often Do Dogs Wake Up At Night

Full-grown dogs should not be awake for extended periods at night. Most dog breeds spend as much as half of their days asleep, and another 30% of their time awake but relaxing.

That means while your dog may wake up more frequently during the night than a human, they should be able to sleep or relax quietly for a typical eight-hour night.

If you have noticed your dog doesn’t seem to be in a deep sleep very often, that is because a dog’s sleep cycle is very different than a human. Dogs spend only 10% of their sleep in REM, or rapid eye movement sleeps, while humans spend 25% of their night in this state.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Getting Up In The Middle Of The Night

You can stop your dog from getting up in the middle of the night by problem-solving what is causing them to wake up. Evaluate first if your dog is waking you up consistently at the same time every night. There could be a specific noise like a garbage truck or construction that is waking them up at this time.

If you find they are waking you up too early because they are hungry, evaluate your dog’s mealtime schedule. They may need a larger dinner time portion to hold them through the night if they are hungry.

Additionally, consider getting an automatic dog feeder or leaving out a small bowl of food somewhere your dog can access it on their own.

If you observe your dog’s behavior and conclude that your dog is not getting up in the middle of the night for a valid reason, then it’s best to begin breaking their bad habit.

Dogs will learn over time that if they wake up in the middle of the night, you will let them out, which is a reward for them.

Instead of rewarding their behavior, ignore them when they wake up and want attention during the night. Eventually, your dog will catch on that they are not getting rewarded anymore, and they will likely stop their middle of the night wake-ups. 

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Whining To Go Outside

If your dog whines to go outside, first consider whether they have an unmet need. If it is unusual for your dog to whine, evaluate whether they are injured or feel ill. Dogs might whine so that you will let them outside when they feel sick or need to use the bathroom.

If your dog has started excessively whining, do not reward their destructive behaviors by giving in. Maintain your alpha position in the relationship by staying calm and correcting their behavior. Offer a distraction like a treat or a toy to redirect their attention from the whining.

Other Reasons Your Dog Might Need To Go Out At Night

There are serval other reasons your dog might be waking you up. An upset stomach may prompt your dog to wake up in the middle of the night and whine about being let out. If this is the case, your dog might run outside to eat grass to relieve their stomachache.

Also, elderly dogs may begin to lose some of their bladder control and may no longer be able to hold it all night.

Lastly, dogs with natural hunting instincts may ask to go out if they hear a noise they deem as suspicious. While the late-night wake-ups are frustrating, it should be apparent quickly whether your dog needs something valid or is just seeking attention.